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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Aspen agrees to never build dams on Castle and Maroon

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The City of Aspen has agreed to move water rights for storage out of Castle and Maroon Creeks.



The city has reached agreements with Pitkin County, two environmental organizations and two private property owners. It is still working with five additional opposing parties in the current water court case to maintain rights for storage on Castle and Maroon Creeks.

Aspen has agreed that, after this application, it will not work to keep water rights in these locations.

Instead, it will file an application to move those rights to other approved locations, like city owned property in Woody Creek, the Aspen Golf Course or Cozy Point Ranch.

City Attorney Jim True said the agreements are a win for all parties involved.

“The city maintains water rights, considers what’s necessary for its citizens, and we address environmental concerns that we were all on the same page," True said.

Will Roush with Wilderness Workshop agreed; he said the settlement makes it clear that the city will never build reservoirs on the pristine creeks.

“Our goal from the start was to protect the ecological integrity of Castle and Maroon Creeks, and this stipulation does that,” he said.

Pitkin County’s opposition to the city’s storage rights came after a recommendation from its Healthy Rivers board. Assistant Pitkin County Attorney Laura Maker said the agreement works to ensure that any future diversions do not damage fragile ecosystems.


“The county has put a lot of time and effort into working on ways to increase flows in times of stress and shortage, and the city is in agreement with the county that they don’t want to do anything to impair that,” Makar said.

The five agreements go in front of Aspen City Council for final consideration at a meeting Tuesday night.


Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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